2017 Oakland Athletics Midseason Top 10 Prospects
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It was only three years ago the Athletics were en route to their third consecutive postseason. Now the franchise continues to tumble, those days so far away.
|Athletics Midseason Top 10|
|1. Franklin Barreto, SS/2B|
|2. A.J. Puk, LHP|
|3. Matt Chapman, 3B|
|4. Sean Murphy, C|
|5. Austin Beck, OF|
|6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP|
|7. Daniel Gossett, RHP|
|8. Grant Holmes, RHP|
|9. Logan Shore, RHP|
|10. Yairo Munoz, 3B/SS/2B/OF|
Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie have paced the offense but are expected to be on the move in trades. Ryon Healy and Chad Pinder have emerged as potential pieces down the road, but neither looks like the cornerstones that will be needed to turn the franchise around. What’s more, Marcus Semien has only played 11 games after having wrist surgery in April. The rest of the A’s roster is being pushed out as more prospects are brought in as suitable present replacements.
Bruce Maxwell, Jaycob Brugman, and Matt Olson have all begun seeing regular time in the lineup since June began. Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto were also called up in what might be an extended trial. Lately, the roster is looking very different from the opening day lineup that was an average of 30.4 years old. And A’s fans are finally getting a glimpse at what this team could look like two years down the line.
Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton give the Athletics a pair of starting pitchers that could cement the team for the next handful of years. Daniel Gossett, Kendall Graveman, Andrew Triggs, and Daniel Mengden will be competing for backend jobs in the future, but all have looked capable of turning in average innings at points. Generally, the pitching is in a much better current spot than the position players.
But overall, this is a team in need of a grand overhaul, something VP of baseball operations Billy Beane acknowledged—after trading closer Sean Doolittle and reliever Ryan Madson to the Nationals for a pack of prospects and Blake Treinen, whom the A's originally had drafted in 2011.
After years of churning through the roster, Beane said the team needs to rebuild around a core that can be kept for a number of years. That change of approach also means that when the A’s look to trade, they are less focused on big league ready prospects than they have been in recent years.
1. Franklin Barreto, SS/2B Triple-A Nashville Age: 21
Barreto is showing the same skills that made him so highly rated coming into the season. He briefly emerged in Oakland for a trial period in late June before being sent back down but left evaluators with a good taste for what he can do. Barreto is a plus runner with advanced contact ability who seems likely to take over at shortstop or second base when eventually deemed ready. One concerning new wrinkle is his surging 29.7% strikeout rate, which could just be chalked up to his tough assignment.
2. A.J. Puk, LHP Double-A Midland Age: 22
Puk has all the ingredients to be frontline starter. His fastball sits anywhere from 95-98, which he pairs with a changeup and swing-and-miss slider. The A’s have also worked to streamline his delivery, allowing him to attack hitters with great plane, and he gets excellent extension, maximizing his 6-foot-7 frame. Puk is still working on firming up his control as he establishes himself in the Texas League after walking 33 batters in his first 79.1 innings.
3. Matt Chapman, 3B Oakland Age: 24
Chapman will be competing for Gold Glove awards at third base in a matter of years, as his 70-grade arm strength and solid fielding ability make him one of the better defenders in baseball. There’s going to be a transition as he learns the ins and outs of major league pitching, but he has profile power, trading off some contact for home runs.
4. Sean Murphy, C Double-A Midland Age: 22
Murphy has always shown the defensive ability at catcher needed to attract scouts, but a broken hamate bone caused concern during his draft year. He fell to the A’s in the third round last year and is now tearing up the minors on his way up the system with a .297 average and .527 slugging percentage before being promoted. His bat now shows 20-home run upside and solid contact skills.
5. Austin Beck, OF Rookie AZL Athletics Age: 18
The sixth overall pick in June, Beck showcased endless tools on the high school circuit in North Carolina. However, he hadn’t seen many premium arms because he missed the offseason after his junior year with a torn ACL, leading many to believe he will move slowly. Beck’s just getting his feet wet in the Arizona League right now, and his tools are enough to warrant attention.
6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP Rookie AZL Athletics Age: 19
Just acquired in the trade with the Nationals, Luzardo returned from Tommy John surgery to showcase knockout-level stuff in extended spring training and in his brief (so far) pro debut. His fastball currently sits in the mid-90s and is flanked by a potential 70-grade changeup and plus curve. Luzardo has frontline potential, but having missed development time due to surgery, he has a long way to go before realizing it.
7. Daniel Gossett, RHP Oakland Age: 24
Gossett is a relatively refined starter ready for an extended trial in the majors. Stepping in for an injured Andrew Triggs, Gossett has started using his sinker more in his big league debut and has had a bit more success as a result. His trademark control has been there (1.48 BB/9), but he’s lacking a swing-and-miss secondary to rack up strikeouts.
8. Grant Holmes, RHP Double-A Midland Age: 21
Holmes has finally made identifiable progress towards his mid-rotation ceiling this year. He’s introduced a cutter to his arsenal, giving him a pitch that he can rely on to handled lefthanded hitters, and his usual 91-95 mph fastball gets great riding life. Mostly, Holmes’ advancement is dependent on him being able to command his fastball better.
9. Logan Shore, RHP High Class A Stockton Age: 22
Shore was drafted as a pitchability college righty with average stuff, but he’s upped his velocity in his first year as a pro. Add in a plus changeup he can locate, and the result is 45 strikeouts in 42.2 innings this year, an amount limited by a lat strain that cost him six weeks.
10. Yairo Munoz, IF/OF Triple-A Nashville Age: 22
What Munoz lacks in plate discipline, he makes up for in his versatility and arm strength. He’s a dynamic athlete capable of playing all over the field, and could eventually see time at every position besides catcher thanks to his 70-grade arm strength and quick footwork. He made enough solid contact in the Texas League to secure a promotion, and the Athletics have been testing him in center field.
• 2B Max Schrock just hits. Everyone is sold on the bat playing at the major league level, but how much he can impact the game in other ways is in question. He’s now playing solid defense at second base.
• A trio of toolsy batters having good seasons in low Class A Beloit are worth watching: Eric Marinez, a 3B/SS with excellent arm strength; Edwin Diaz, a SS/3B who might be the best defender in the system; and outfielder Luis Barrera, a plus runner with a polished swing. Barrera was promoted to high Class A Stockton.
• OF Tyler Ramirez has moved quickly as a smooth-swinging outfielder with exceptional strike-zone recognition. The 2016 seventh-round pick already has reached Double-A.
• RHP Dakota Chalmers had as many walks as innings pitched before being re-assigned to short-season Vermont in June. He hasn't pitched since May 29, having stepped away from baseball for a personal issue, but is expected to return soon.
• Known more for his glove work than his bat, SS Richie Martin has struggled to hit at every step up the ladder. Martin sports a .220 batting average through the first three months of the season, bringing into question whether the bat will ever play well enough to justify the glove.
• RHP Daulton Jefferies is out for the season following Tommy John surgery. The 2016 second round pick should return around mid-season in 2018.
• RHP Bobby Wahl went down with a strained right shoulder in late May and received a cortisone injection but is still a few weeks away.
• RHP Raul Alcantara has been on the shelf with bicep tendinitis since late-May, but there’s no set return date.
• RHP Jharel Cotton is going through growing pains in the A’s rotation but should become a competent starter thanks to his advanced changeup and cutter combination.
• INF Chad Pinder has played a super-utility role so far, seeing time at four positions. His average power has already showed up in games even more than expected, with nine home runs in 145 at-bats.
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